RC 23- TCK 22
Royal College scraped through to a 23-22 win over their arch rivals Trinity College, Kandy in a pulsating Bradby 1st Leg encounter worked off at the “Lions den” Pallekele. Royal should consider themselves lucky to come out victorious as trinity could have stolen an undeserving win had a difficult penalty kick put through, during the dying stages of the game.
In fact the score line does not reflect the performance of Royal as they dominated their opposition during open play while destroying them in the scrums and should have scored much more points as they did.
Royal kicked off the game and started brightly, with their forwards and backs combining and launching devastating attacks. But some last minute fumbles and some gritty defense by the hosts prevented the Colombo side from going over. Much to the surprise of everyone it was Trinity who opened the scoring when their scrum half Anuk Boyagoda capitalized on a poor line out throw and raced to the goal line.
Saranga Gunathilake added the extras and Trinity led 7-0 before Royal hit back through a penalty off the boot of full-back Ovin Askey. But Trinity scored yet again against the run of play when their giant 2nd rower Rahul Karunathilake intercepted a pass and dashed over 70 meters to score a brilliant try. Trinity led 12-03. Royal Captain and Center Banuka Gamage who had another splendid game took matters into his own hands, sneaked through the 1st line of defense before rounding off trinity’s last defender to score a beautiful try under the posts. Aseky added the easy two points and royal spurred by their skipper kept attacking, but some last gasp defense saw trinity hold on to a slender two-point lead at half time.
It was a nightmare start for the hosts as Royal scored immediately through their winger who collected a neat chip by Scrum half Ashok who spotted the space behind the trinity line. Askey missed the conversion, but Royal led for the first time in the game (15-12). The Royal forwards were dominant in the contact situation, scrums and their backs took advantage of the space their forwards were creating.
Quick and neat handling by the backs saw Winger Sabith Feroze go over for another try for Royal. Despite missing the conversion, Askey slotted in a penalty and Royal led 23-12. Saranga Gunathilake fluffed two kick-able penalties by his standards before Fly half Thisula Perera took over the kicking duties, obliged with the third penalty which was offered and cut the gap to 15-23. Perera once again delivered the goods, this time with a neat cross kick which saw Saranga Gunathilake dive over for a try which was converted and Trinity narrowed the lead to just one point (22-23). During the last minute of regulation time, Trinity were awarded a penalty albeit from difficult angle and distance. Perera’s kick was not good enough and royal manage to hold on to the ball from there on wards. During the final moments, Royal were awarded a penalty but Askey’s attempt was off target.
However, that was enough to seal a memorable win at Pallekelle for Royal who remained unbeaten in their group. Trinity too can still fight for the shield as the lead is just one point. but what they will be concerned of is the fact that Royal will play at their fortress in two weeks time and it won’t be easy to contain the Royal Juggernaut that looks dangerous to say the least.